The new Commission, announced by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), will advise the Government on how to “create a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sector which contributes to a thriving and sustainable rural economy, advances environmental, economic, health and animal welfare goals, and is consistent with the Government’s aims for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, enlargement of the EU and increased trade liberalisation”.

The Commission, which will only report on England, will set its own working methods drawing in advice from a wide range of stakeholders, including high quality economics expertise and expertise on the EU legislative and policy framework, as well as knowledge of successful international models for agricultural reform. It will be chaired by Sir Don Curry, a Northumberland farmer, who chaired the Meat and Livestock Commission throughout the BSE crisis and established North Country Primestock – a marketing co-operative for beef and lamb, trading with over 800 farmers and with a turnover of £18 million.

The Policy Commission, which has been asked to report to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by 31 December this year, has been told to take two possible limiting factors into consideration. Firstly, domestic agriculture and food policy is governed to a significant extent by EU law, and while responsibility for UK negotiations on EU matters such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rests with the Government, agricultural policy within Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved administrations. UK policy towards the much-criticised CAP is decided by the Government in consultation with the devolved administrations.

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